Monthly Archives: May 2014

Visit the City of Tampa, Florida



Visit the City of Tampa, Florida

Florida may be famous for man made wonders like Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World but it also has abundance of natural beauty lying in some of its amazing cities. The city that tops the list is Tampa, a small but stimulating city located on the west coast of Florida. Tampa is also county seat of Hillsborough County and famous for its beautiful scenery, Busch Gardens, museums, the City Hall, the resident football team, the Buccaneers and a rich history. It is the largest city in Hillsborough County and third most populous city of Florida. The main contribution factors to Tampa’s economy are tourism, finance, construction and agriculture. Back in 15th century, the area of Tampa was known as the Tampa Bay and it became part of United States in 1845. The economic boom here started during 1890s when phosphates was found here which gave rise to mining and shipping industries and today this city has the 7th largest port in United States. Tampa has also been a famous location among filmmakers as movies like China Moon, Cocoon, Lethal Weapon, Once Upon A Time in America and some others were filmed here. Tampa also has the largest wine cellar in the world, Florida’s first brewery, longest sidewalk of the world, some oldest restaurants of Florida, famous birding sites and 200 factories producing more than 700 million cigars per year.

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Tampa has a humid subtropical climate just like most of the cities in Florida with quite hot summers with no dry seasons. July is the hottest month with maximum temperature of 90 degrees and January is the coldest with 51 degrees. You will see rainfalls here very often as Tampa gets 47 inches of rain and no snowfalls during the year. However, there are around 240 sunny days per year and humidity touches a high level during summer. The best time to visit Tampa is during spring season.

How to get here?

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Tampa International Airport is one of the most functional airport terminals in the world with roof top auto parking, shuttle system and a lot of escalators. You can also arrive by water at the Garrison Seaport Center’s Cruise Terminal with multi deck parking garage and good customs facilities. You can easily get any cab, taxi, rental car or shuttle from these places to reach downtown comfortably. Getting around Tampa is also quite easy as there are buses from Hartride Area Regional Transit, also known as HARTLine, and limousines always available.

Accommodation and Food

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From lavish resort hotels to cozy hostels and B&Bs, you wouldn’t be disappointed from the lodging options in Tampa. There are hundreds of accommodation spots in downtown area and WestShore District of Tampa. Some of the hottest options are SpringHill Suites by Marriott, located right in the heart of Westshore with king and double bedded suites and 4 meeting rooms, The Westin Tampa Harbour Island, located just 7 miles from Tampa International Airport, with 299 guest rooms and 19 suites, The Resort and Club at Little Harbour with its Caribbean style offering some great waterfront views and Tampa Marriott Westshore with  its perfect location around shopping malls and corporations. Budget options include Wingate by Wyndham Tampa, Floridan Palace, Embassy Suites and Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel.

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The cuisine of Tampa is known internationally for its great taste and incomparable dining experience. You will surely love the seafood and authentic Spanish dishes this delicious city has to offer. One of the best is Water’s Edge, located at Cortez Boulevard, featuring some delicious seafood and shrimp specialities with pasta, chicken, meat and sandwiches. Other good options include GameWorks offering great grilled swordfish, tasty meat loaf with pizza and burgers, Bern’s Steakhouse with more than 7000 selections, Armani’s with some exotic Italian food, Bridie Gannon’s Pub & Eatery, Columbia, Louis Pappas’s Riverside Restaurant and Chateau France.

The Attractions

Busch Gardens

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Busch Garden is a theme park located at N Malcolm Mckinley Dr in Tampa. It covers an area of 335 acres and has been leading theme park of Florida for more than 50 years now. The main attractions of Busch Gardens are Falcon’s Fury which is a thrilling ride, Food & Wine Festival, the Seaworld & Busch Gardens Conservation center, The Wildlife Docs featuring the enriching works of animal care experts, Animal Care Center featuring close look at animal care, surgeries & Nutrition, Happy Tails which fosters more than 30000 pets from around the place. The park also holds some special exhibits like Myombe Reserve, Curiosity Caverns, The Serengeti Plain and Edge of Africa.

Florida Aquarium

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The Florida Aquarium is a 250,000 square foot aquarium located at Channelside Dr in Tampa and features a Water Fun Zone, Wild Dolphin Cruise, Dive with the Sharks, Swim with the Fishes and a behind the scene tour. The aquarium also holds some educational camps, youth & family programs, teacher & school programs and camps for people of all ages. The aquarium remains open daily and can be reached easily by all means of transport. The ticket costs differently for different purpose but generally it costs $23.95 for adults and $18.95 for children.

Lowry Park Zoo

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The Lowry Park Zoo is a non profit zoo located at W Sligh Avenue in Tampa and features more than 2000 animals, shows, rides, dining, shopping and some interesting exhibits. It was opened in 1988 and today it has become one of the most visited zoos in US. The zoo covers an area of more than 56 acres and features Safari Africa & Ituri Forest, Wallaroo Station, Asian Gardens & Sulawsi Aviary, Free Flight Aviaries, Florida Boardwalk, Florida Manatee & Aquatic Center and Primate World.

The Land less traveled, Zimbabwe



The Land less traveled, Zimbabwe

ZimbabweZimbabwe is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa surrounded by the countries namely Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. It is a land of diversity full of natural wonders and unrivalled natural beauty. This country is made up of plateaus and many beautiful sceneries. It also has a diverse range of landscapes ranging from mountainous terrains to grasslands. This country also boasts of numerous attractions ranging from national parks, historical sites, waterfalls, heritage monuments to the beautiful rivers. This is a land where nature can be experienced first-hand. This place also has an intriguing history that provides depth and meaning. The mixture of botanical gardens, sanctuaries and wild safaris make it a paradise for the tourists. Also the people in this country are very warm and friendly and always ready to welcome the tourists with a smile and an excellent service. Thus, this country comprises gorgeous sceneries, remarkable African culture and adventurous safaris which make this place worth a visit for every traveler.

GET IN

The transportation in this country is excellent and thus one wouldn’t have a problem in travelling around or even getting in the country. The national airline of this country is Air Zimbabwe that operates direct and indirect flights to the capital city, Harare. All the international flights land and take off from the Harare International Airport. Another option to travel is by train that arrives and departs thrice a week between Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and Francistown in Botswana which takes about six hours. You can also travel by car and busses as the roads are well connected to all its neighboring countries.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park is one of the largest parks in Zimbabwe located between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. It is the biggest park amongst the eight parks in Zimbabwe and is famous for its diversity in flora and fauna. There are more than 100 species of animals and about 400 species of birds. It is also the biggest game reserve in Zimbabwe. It is one of the elephant sanctuaries in Africa having thousands of Elephants. Overnight Camping is also allowed in the park at some of the picnic spots.

Hwange National Park

Great Zimbabwe Ruins

This is a complex of ruins and is the remains of one of the greatest African civilizations built by Shona speakers between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was once the centre of vast empire known as the Munhumutapa Empire. This is the largest ruins in the Sub-Saharan Africa which covers almost 1800 acres of land. There are three architectural groupings namely the Hill complex, Valley complex and the great enclosure built with dry stone techniques. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 1986.

Great_Zimbabwe ruins

Victoria Falls

This is a famous tourist destination for both the adventure lovers as well as the sight seekers. Victoria Falls is the most amazing sight in the world which is twice as all as the Niagara Falls and many times longer too. Although this is not the highest, widest not does it have the greatest volume of water but it is definitely a sight not to be missed by anyone. There are many adventure activities conducted here like canoeing and white water rafting on the river above the falls. There are also many sunset cruises on the Zambezi River above the falls which provide a mesmerizing view of the sunset.

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Mana Pools National Park

Mana Pools National Park is located in the North of Zimbabwe on the south of the Zambezi River. This park is spread over a land of 2500 square kilometers. It welcomes the safari lovers with an abundance of elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes and many other animals and over 300 bird species. It has countries biggest population of Hippopotamuses and crocodiles as well as of Elephants and buffaloes. This place has many beautiful landscapes. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mana Pools national Park

Lake Kariba

This lake is located in the town of Kariba on the northern border of Zimbabwe. This is a very famous tourist destination and attracts many travelers. This is also the biggest source of hydro electric power for Zimbabwe. It is a great place for fishing and to enjoy the wild life that visits the shores of this lake. The most famous way of traveling on this lake is by hiring a houseboat. These houseboat tours can take about five days with an evening to be spent camping on the shore of this lake.

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In addition to the above places there are many more places that can be visited here like the city of Harare which is the largest and also the capital city of Zimbabwe. Harare has many things to offer and is worth a visit. The Eastern Highlands offer some of the most beautiful sceneries. These lush cloudy mountains form the border with Mozambique. There is a village nearby called Chimanimani which is very popular with the tourists and the walkers. Matobo is another place located in the south west of Bulawayo which boasts of some amazing rock formations. Many rocks are found balancing in ways that would defy logic. This area also has two dams which is a picnic spot amongst tourists. Thus, Zimbabwe is a beautiful place with some of the most stunning landscapes, waterfalls, forests, historical monuments which is a must visit.

The City of Discovery: Pasadena, California



The City of Discovery: Pasadena, California

A place offering some exotic locations, pleasant environment, delicious food, comfortable accommodation, supportive people, good transportation, healthy nightlife, these are the characteristics that a tourist desires from his destination. Pasadena, the dynamic city of California, surely has all these qualities and may be that is the reason it is called the City of Discovery. An interesting blend of charm, culture, fun and history makes this city one of the most favorite destinations for the visitors from around the globe. Pasadena is county seat of Los Angeles County and located just ten miles northeast of Los Angeles. It is 180th largest city of US and bordered by 11 communities named Eagle Rock, San Marino, Temple City, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Altadena, La Canada Flintridge, South Pasadena and Highland Park. Pasadena was just a habitat of the Hahamogna Tribe of Native Americans in 1700s and the establishment of San Gabriel Mission in 1771 changed the entire scenario of this place. The city of Pasadena was founded in 1875 and incorporated in 1886 making it a part of Southern California at the same time. Pasadena is a city of great art collections, literature and entertainment featuring a lot of festivals and events. You will be blown away by the iconic festivals of the city like Rose Parade, Rose Bowl Game, Post Parade Float Viewing, Annual Camellia Show, Black History Parade & Festival, Pasadena Art Night, Spring Home Tour, Bungalow Heaven Home Tour, Pasadena Showcase House of Design, Doo Dah Parade and more.

Pasadena, California

Pasadena has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and no dry season. July and August are the warmest months with maximum temperature of 90 degrees and December is the coldest with minimum temperature of 19 degrees. The winters go quite mild here and you will not experience any bone chilling cold moments. Humidity varies from 13% to 82% around the year and you can expect more than 250 days of sunshine per year. The best time to visit Pasadena is between February and April when the weather remains pleasant.

How to get here?

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Although Pasadena does not have its own international airport but there are three nearby airports where you can land and come easily to Pasadena downtown. These airports are Bob Hope Airport, located just 18 miles away, Los Angeles International Airport with 28 miles and Ontario International Airport with only 36 miles. You can also arrive at Pasadena by trains like Metropolitan Transit Authority of Los Angeles County, Gold Line Railway and Amtrak Train Service which connects Pasadena to almost every nearby city. You can get around the city by cabs, taxis, shuttles and rental cars.

Accommodation and Food

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You can easily find a suitable accommodation in downtown of Pasadena which has easy access to nearby landmark locations and eateries. You can choose from luxury hotels with scenic views of the surrounding mountains or budget motels with good architectures. One of the favorite hotels of visitors is Hilton Hotel located at Los Robles Avenue featuring 296 guestrooms and free internet throughout the hotel. Then there is The Langham Huntington located at Oak Knoll Avenue featurin 380 guest rooms with private cottages, Old Pasadena Courtyard by Marriott located at Fair Oaks Avenue with 314 guest rooms, fitness center and complimentary Wi-Fi. Other good options include Sheraton Pasadena, The Westin Pasadena, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Le Reve Pasadena, Howard Johnsan, Pasadena Inn, Ramada Inn, Rodeway Inn & Suites and more.

food

There are more than 500 restaurants, bars, cafes and other eating spots in Pasadena covering all the international cuisines. American, Chinese, Continental, Deli, French, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, Seafood, Mexican, Korean, Steak or Thai, you just have to name it and you will find all these tastes right next to one another. Some famous restaurants of Pasadena include Barney’s Ltd, Beany’s Cafe, DogHous, Coco’s Restaurant, Conrad’s, CREPstudio, The Counter, Robin’s Woodfire BBQ & Grill, Rounds Burgers, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion and The Royce at the Langham Huntington Hotel.

The Attractions

Nortan Simon Museum

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The Nortan Simon Museum is an art museum located at W Colorado Boulevard featuring art collections from 14th to 20th century, exhibition, events and seminars. It was formerly known as the Pasadena Art Institute. You will be amazed to know that this museum houses more than 1000 works of art from the permanent collection of 12000 objects. You can take a private guided tour at anytime and explore the amusing history and attractive exhibitions of the museum. The main attraction of the museum are the events like introductory films, lectures, performances, talks & tours, family & youth programs and summer concert series.

Rose Bowl

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Rose Bowl is a famous athletic stadium located at Rose Bowl Dr in Pasadena and it is also home of the football team from UCLA. It was built in 1922 and since then it has been a National Historic Landmark of Pasadena city. It holds the Rose Bowl Game every year which is the oldest bowl game in the country. It was originally built for only football but also used for the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. It has the seating capacity of more than 100,000 fans and you can take guided tour of the stadium at anytime during the day.

Gamble House

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The Gamble House is a historic landmark, located at Westmoreland PI in Pasadena and a great example of American Arts and stylish architecture. It was designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908 and today it is operated by the University of Southern California. You can easily take a 30 minute public tour of the house which costs $13.75 for adults and $11 for children.

Coastal Endeavor of Maharashtra – Alibaug



Coastal Endeavor of Maharashtra – Alibaug

 

Alibaug

An array of beaches tickles a lot of fun-loving people and is totally amusing when it comes to short trips. If the trip has an added favor of water sports and lush green coconut trees lined up just besides the beach then it is simply the place to hang out. The cherry on the cake is the sea food served in the typical Konkani preparation made by the local people with extra love and affection for their guests. Alibaug is such a place. In the Raigad district of Maharashtra, this place is an all-time favorite of the people of Pune and Mumbai as the best short trip destination for getting away from the day-to-day schedule. Just the sight of the blue waters, dark brown sands, the green waving coconut trees and the gentle skies make it a colorful portrait once you enter the areas of these coastal beauties. The site of the clear water and the fresh marine air welcomes you and gets you all freshened up for the exciting things that await you further. With numerous beaches to be explored and loads of site seeing coming your way, Alibaug is a platter of satiating views and mesmerizing locations to relax. The best time to visit the place is during the months of November to February, when the waters are calm and the weather is perfectly subtle.

Kashid Beach

Kashid beach

The most renowned and a hot spot for the young generation, this beach is packed with the college crowd enjoying the beach rides, romantic sunsets and the bonfires at night. A cool place to get away from all the worries in your life, the beach takes away all your stress in a moment. The place is also famous amongst the just married couples as a short honeymoon stay. With an amusing sunset on the cold sand and the waters gushing towards your feet, the romance spreads in the air like a wildfire and you can see all the pairs lined up on the beach; some sitting, some strolling and some flirting. Meant for the young and the young at heart this beach is a must visit if you fall in any one of the categories. It is also known as the surfing paradise for the sports lovers as the waves reach quiet a height.

Nagaon Beach

Nagaon beach

Interested in a fun yet romantic experience? Then Nagaon sounds perfect. The best location in the chain of the Konkan coastal areas for water sports, it has a varied range of water sports available for the guests. Parasailing being the most rousing and intimate water sport for all the romantic buds, has the maximum number of customers on this beach. The other sports include the tube ride, banana ride and of course the jet ski.  The suru tree and the beach weather with pink sunsets make it a super awesome place to just sit and chitchat with your spouse or for that matter even your friends. A flawlessly admirable view of the unsoiled natural beauty can be the best thing that Nagaon beach gives you.

Murud-Janira Beach

Murud beach     Murud Janjira

Another exhilarating place out of these beaches is the Murud beach. The beach is known because of the fort of Murud-Janjira. A famous fort on the Western coast of Maharashtra, known for its cunning construction and magnificent architecture with due importance to the minute details during those times, this fort is visited by thousands of tourists. Occupied and built by the Siddis 300 years ago, this fort was the only fort on the western coast which remained undefeated in spite of many attacks and wars.  The 19 bastions where the pillars of the fort and being armed helped in the protection of the region. The fort also shelters the palace of the Nawab which till date remains intact enough to imagine the self-sufficiency during the olden times. Now serving as a tourist attraction, this fort can be reached using the boats or ferry rides offered from the coast.

Kolaba Fort

Kolaba Fort

The Kolaba Fort is located approximately 1 or 2 km off the coast and is accessible through boats during the high tides. But that’s not it; you can walk to the fort during the low tides when a path which connects the coast to this fort can be seen. The fort was built as a naval base during the times of Shivaji Maharaj. This was then handed over to the Peshwas who protected it and strengthened it. The numerous evasions of the Portuguese and the British were in vain in front of this fort. The amusing thing inside the fort is the availability of two fresh water tanks in spite of the encompassing sea. There is also a Siddhivinayak temple inside the fort built during the olden times. The strong and alluring historical background and the refreshing sea breeze are the reasons this place attracts a lot of tourists who visit Alibaug.

So much more to explore, Alibaug has an energetic vibe spread all over the expanse. The other sites include Varsoli beach, Kihim beach, Awas beach, the numerous temples, synagogues and the churches. Although a peace loving and calm place, you can always get surrounded with your bunch of people and have the time of your life. A beach endeavor packed with enthusiasm and generous portions of lip smacking sea food, is what you can expect when you plan a trip to Alibaug.

The Extraordinary City of Bozeman, Montana



The Extraordinary City of Bozeman, Montana

Montana is also known as the Cowboy Capitol and mainly famous for numerous mountain ranges, the big sky country, basketball, museums, famous celebrities and high standard lifestyle. The name Montana is derived from Spanish language which means mountains and it is obvious because the state is surrounded by sky high mountains. This recognition is gained by Montana because of its beautiful and charming cities like Missoula, Great Falls, Helene, Butte, Bozeman and more. Lets explore the Bozeman city which is one of the most visited cities of Montana. Bozeman is located in the southwestern part of Montana state and is also the county seat of Gallatin County. Bozeman is a city of arts & architecture, unique retail shops, outdoor adventures and some fine dining restaurants. It is located just 98 miles from state capital of Montana, Helena and 93 miles from Yellowstone National Park. This city has the biggest university campus in whole state, named Montana State University and the literacy rate is higher than a number of cities in Montana. The history of Bozeman takes us to 1864 when an American explorer John Bozeman established famous Bozeman Trail and founded this city. It got incorporated as a city in 1883 and elected as an American City in 1922. The 19th century was the golden period for Bozeman when colleges, universities, hospitals and industries were established in the city and gave rise to an economic boom. Today, this city is 4th largest city of Montana and the visitors can’t help but get attracted towards this amazing city.

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Bozeman has a typical humid continental climate with hot summers. It does not have any dry seasons and the winters can be bone chilling sometimes. The temperature varies from 7 F to 85 F throughout the year. The warmest month is July with maximum temperature of 85 F and December can go down to -13 F some times. Light rain, light snow and thunderstorms are common during the year and precipitation is highest during May. The best time to visit Bozeman is between February and April.

How to get here?

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Bozeman is served by Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, located just 8 miles northwest of city downtown. The airport is owned by Gallatin Airport Authority and receives flights from all major airline carriers like Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines and United. You can easily get a cab, taxi or airport shuttle to reach city center. You can get around the city by Greyhound Lines buses, Classic Limo services or Rental Cars.

Accommodation and Food

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Bozeman has abundance of accommodation options, from Hotels & Motels to hostels & Inns. You can enjoy a luxurious stay at Big Sky Resort located in downtown featuring fine dining room, lounge, coffee cart, ski storage, meeting rooms and Solace Spa. Other visitors favorite place is Grey Cliffs Ranch located at Lakota Drive which features 5200 acres area consisting of 115 unique bedrooms, with fly fishing, horseback riding and guided bird hunting. Other good and affordable options include Double T River Ranch, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express & Bozeman West, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Lewis & Clark Motel, Rockin’ TJ Ranch, The Olive Branch Inn, Blue Sky Motel, C’mon Inn, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Rainbow Motel, Ramada Limited, Royal 7 Inn and Super 8 Motel.

Bite of Bozeman

Bozeman must be the last place in Montana where you would die starving because there are more than 500 eating spots around the city and features all rich and international tastes of all cuisine, from Mexican to Italian and American to Mediterranean. Some of the finest dining spots are 14 North featuring some great steaks by trained chefs, Brandi’s Steak House and Casino, located on North Broadway, featuring best beer selection and delicious American food, La Parrilla at West Babcock featuring fresh and high quality Alaskan salmon and Fettucine Alfredo. Other good options include Leaf & Bean, Looie’s Down Under, MacKenzie River Pizza Company, MacKenzie River Roadhouse, O’Brien’s Restaurant, Overland Express, Pickle Barrel and Starkey’s Authentic Americana.

The Attractions

Museum of the Rockies

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The Museum of the Rockies is  located at W Kagy Boulevard in Bozeman and features world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils and research. The museum is affiliated with Montana State University and attracts thousands of visitors every year. You will be amazed to see some most of the famous dinosaur specimens like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops. Some most famous exhibitions of the museum are Living History Farm, The Taylor Planetarium, Geckos-Tails to Toepads, Siebel Dinosour Complex, Martin Children’s Discovery Center and Paugh Regional History Hall. The museum remains open daily and admission costs $14 for adults and $9.50 for children.

Big Sky Resort

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Big Sky Resort is located in Madison County, not very far away from Bozeman, and is the biggest skiing resorts in Montana. The resort covers an area of 5750 acres and features shopping place, golf course, music concerts, events & exhibitions, Lone Peak Expedition, Solace Spa & Salon and Wellness Studio & Classes. It was opened in 1976 and since then it has been the center of attraction for the visitors coming to Montana.

American Computer Museum

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The American Computer Museum is located at Stadium Dr in Montana and features the exhibitions of history of computing and communications. The museum has a large collection of personal computers, calculators, the first minicomputer and much more. The museum remains open daily and the admission is absolutely free but donations are welcomed by the museum.

Boboli Gardens: Florence, Italy



Boboli Gardens: Florence, Italy

Boboli Gardens is a type of pleasure garden situated in Florence in Italy. It is one of the largest and splendid gardens in the world and most elegant Italian style garden. It extends from the hill behind the Pitti palace as far as Porta Romania. It is the main seat of the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany at Florence. It is approximately a 111 acres garden behind the Pitti palace, extending to modern Fort Belvedere.

 

Boboli-Gardens

HISTORY

It was started by Niccolò di Raffaello di Niccolò dei Pericoli, popularly known as Niccolo Tribolo. He converted the area into one of the most splendid and spectacular Renaissance gardens and worked at what he called his “green architecture”. The Boboli Gardens was actually laid out for Cosimo I de’ Medici’s wife Eleanora di Toledo. Designed in structured and geometric Italian Renaissance style, the initial phase of the work was started by Niccolo Tribolo until he died in 1550, then further work was continued by Bartolomeo Ammannati along with Giorgio Vasari (he laid out the grottos) and Bernardo Buontalenti (designed the Large Cave) and Giambologna. Buontalenti also made the elaborate architecture of the grotto in the courtyard that separates the palace from its garden.

Over the years the domain underwent several expansions, enlargements and additions of statues and fountains. It was opened to the public in 1776. The garden has no natural water source; water from the Arno is transported through a conduit.

 THE GARDENS AND ITS ATTRACTIONS

The garden is triangular in shape and is characterized by two orthogonal axes which meet at Bacino di Nettuno or Neptune’s Basin. The leaning axes evolve through a series of sculptures, terraces, green elements and paths which introduce to particular environments: glades, fences, gardens, building. It is an elegant blend of natural and artistic work. The enormous evenly divided green surface is an open-air museum, containing mostly antique, renaissance statues, wonderful fountains, ponds, grottos and hidden paths. The garden is among the finest classical parks and has sundry other attractions to look for.

Amphitheater

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In the first phase of the garden an amphitheater was built adjoined to the hill behind Pitti palace. It was initially formed by edges and evergreen meadows but was later built in masonry. It was decked with ancient statues and sculptures based on the Roman myths like- fountain “dell’Oceano” or the Fountain of the Ocean sculpted by Giambologna ( was later transported to another part within the same garden) the small “Grotta di madama and the Grotta Grande also known as Grotta del Buontalenti (begun by Vasari but completed by Ammannati and Buontalenti).  These statues in spite of, currently, undergoing restoration works still continue to be remarkable examples of Mannerist architecture and culture.

Its interior and exterior are decorated with stalactites and are authentically animated by waterworks and luxuriant vegetation. It’s mainly composed of 3 environments- first, painted in frescoes to create the illusion of a natural cave where animals and shepherds move and houses the Michelangelo’s Prisoners’ replica. The room that follows contains important sculptures like “Bathing Venus” by Giambologna and the group of “Paris and Helan” by Vincenzo de Rossi.

Walking towards Porta Romana, after the Prato dell’Uccellare, is the Viottolone- a large boulevard flanked by cypresses and statuettes that led to the square dell’Isolatto made by Giulio and Alfonso Parigi in 1618. In the center of this is the “dell’Oceano”, surrounded by sculptures representing the Nile, the Ganges and the Euphrates. Other mesmerizing works found in the amphitheater are: the fountain called del’Forcone (pitchfork) or Vivaio de Nettuno (nursery of Neptune) and the large statue dell’Abbondanza (abundance).

Bacchus Fountain

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Bacchus Fountain in the Boboli gardens is one of the most singular fountains in the park. It was sculpted by Valerio Cioli in 1560. It’s situated in the north-west area of the Piazza dei Pitti, next to the exit of the Vasari Corridor’s passage. This specific statues actually represents the court dwarf, (ironically nicknamed Morgante), happily drunk Bacchino and completely naked while riding a turtle. It actually depicts Pierto Barbino (the court jester of duke Cosimo I) as Bacchus the roman god of wine. Nearby, two Roman statues of Dacian prisoners lie on both the side of the park’s entrance.

Grotto Grande

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The Grotta Grande or the Grotta del Buontalenti is located on the left side of the park’s entrance. It was designed by Buontalenti and was built between 1583 and 1588. It consists of 3 connected chambers, each of which contains different statues and sculptures.

The first chamber contains the unfinished sculpture by Michelangelo, created for the tomb of Pope Julius II, – the statue of four slaves. However now it contains only the replicas of the statues as the originals were moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia. The second chamber houses the statue of “Paris and Helena” by Vincenzo de’ Rossi sculpted in 1560. The third chamber contains the statue of Bathing Venus by Giambologna created in 1565.

The niches of the Grottos facade depicts the statues of Apollo and Ceres, which often remains closed to the visitors.

Kaffeehaus

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Kaffeehaus is an elegant Rococo styled pavilion, built in 1775. It was built by Zanobi del Rosso for Emperor Leopoldo II. Kaffeehaus at present is used as a coffee house and at the center of the garden, below the Kaffeehaus, is a small fountain depicting the Greek hero Ganymede climbing an eagle.

Knight’s Garden

Rose-garden

Knight’s Garden or Giardano del Cavaliere is a small formal rose garden. At the center of the Garden is situated a small fountain. This is the place where Italy’s first potatoes were grown and silkworms were bred. The small building fencing the Garden contains the Porcelain Museum.

 

WHEN CAN YOU VISIT?

The galleries are invariably closed on Mondays. Garden opening hours vary according to time of year: November/February: 08.15 am – 04.30 pm

March and October: 08.15 am – 05.30 pm

April, May and September: 08.15 am – 06.30 pm

June/August: 08.15 am – 07.30 pm.

It remains Closed on the first and on the last Monday of each month, on New Year’s Day, on May the 1st and on Christmas.

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Universal Studios, Japan



Universal Studios, Japan

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One of the four Universal Studios Theme Parks, owned and operated by USJ Co. Ltd., Universal Studios Japan is located in Osaka, a city in the Kansai region of Japan’s main island of Honshu. The studios attract many South Koreans and Chinese visitors. Universal Studios in Japan were the first to attract ten million visitors, faster than any other theme park in the world.

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What Lures the Tourists..

The major attractions of the park are  arranged in ten different areas of the park. These areas are named after cities and offer attractions based on various popular Hollywood movies, such as-

  • The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter– based on the famous Harry Potter film and book series. The flagship attraction of this area is ‘Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey’, which is the signature amusement ride, that takes the visitors through scenes and environments in and around the Hogwarts school from the film series. It is a state of the art ride, utilising technology which has never been seen before.
  • New York-  consists of two major attractions-
  1. The Amazing Adventures Of Spider Man-  is a motion based 3D dark ride, that combines special meandering vehicles with 3D projection, elaborate physical sets and both practical and tactile effects. The ride takes the visitors into the world of Spider Man, in a vehicle called ‘Scoop’. Where the visitors learn that the evil sinister syndicate has captured the Statue Of Liberty. This evil group is made up of many famous Spider man villains, including Doctor Octopus, Scream, Electro, Hydro-man and Hobgoblin.
  2.  Terminator 2:3D-  The attraction is a mini sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It re-unites Director James Cameron and the main cast of the movie including, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the terminator, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and the others. The show is presented in two parts, a pre show where a cyber dyne company (a fictional artificial intelligence co., featured in the Terminator franchise), company hostess shows the visitors a brief video presentation about the company’s innovations, followed by the main show where live performers interact with a 3D film.
  • Hollywood-
  1. Hollywood Dream Ride-  is a steel roller coaster located at the section of attraction called Hollywood. The ride features inbuilt sound systems allowing the riders to choose their own incidental music. The net income of the theme park was considered increased because of the Hollywood Dream ride.
  2.  Sesame Street 4D Movie Magic- is a 4D film theme park attraction, which was later acquired by Seaworld Parks Entertainment to run at their Burch Gardens and Sea World Theme Park.
  3.  Universal Monsters Live Rock and Roll Show- is also known as Beetlejuice’s Rockin’ Graveyard Revue, is a live stage show based on the film with the same name and Universal’s Classic Monsters.
  4. Space Fantasy – The Ride- is a spinning roller coaster ride. This ride opened as a replacement for the former E.T. Adventure Dark Ride. The ride is themed to a journey through space and features an array of special effects, interactive Projection screens, on-board audio , laser and fibre optics.
  5.  Shrek’s 4D Adventure- also called the ‘Ghost of Lord Farquaad’, is a 4D film at various theme parks around the world. Universal Parks and Resorts, is the main licensee of the film which is currently shown at their parks in Hollywood, Florida, Japan & Singapore.
  • San Francisco-
  1.   Back To The Future- The Ride- is a stimulator ride which is based on and inspired by the popular ‘Back To The future’ film series and also , is a mini-sequel to the 1990′s famous Hollywood venture ‘ Back To The Future Part 3′. The story of the ride centres on a first-person  adventure through time, in pursuit of Biff Tannen, the trilogy’s villain. Steven Spielberg, who happens to be the Executive Producer of the film series played a vital role as a creative consultant for the ride.
  2. Backdraft- is a show that employs fire as a special effect. It is based on the film by the same name. If they please, visitors can learn how the Pyrotechnic ( is related to fireworks) effects were created and experience some of them first hand. This Hollywood attraction finally closed down in 2010, but remains a part of the Osaka theme park.
  • Jurassic Park-
  1. Jurassic Park- The Ride- is a water based amusement ride, based on the famous Jurassic Park series. The ride is located within the entire Jurassic Park themed section of the park. Themed food, vehicles, venues and buildings make up the interiors of the section. The riders encounter numerous dinosaurs along the ride. Its quite a joy ride for the visitors, as they find themselves in a constant grasp of adventure. Jurassic Park admirers have the time of their lives during the spine chilling ride.

Apart from these major rides, there are various other attractions mainly for children, such as-

  • Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue which consists of, Hello Kitty’s Cup Cake Dream and Hello Kitty’s Ribbon Collection.
  • Sesame Street Fun Zone offers Elmo’s Bubble Bubble, Abby’s Magical Party, Big Bird’s Big Nest, Moppy’s Lucky Dance Party, Grover’s Construction Company and lot’s more.
  • The Lagoon offers Peter Pan’s Neverland, which gives you a chance to see and experience Neverland in reality.
  • The Water World offers, Live Sea War spectacular.
  • Amity Village offers- Jaws, which is a theme park attraction based on the popular film by the same name. The attraction places guests aboard tour boats for what should be leisurely tour of the Amity Harbour, but becomes a harrowing chase between the craft and a very determined Great White Shark.

One need not get worried about places to stay , since there are five official hotels in and around the park namely-

  • Hotel Universal Port
  • Hotel Seagull Tempozan Osaka
  • Hotel Keishan Universal City
  • Hotel Keishan Universal Tower
  • Hotel Kintetsu Universal City

If you are totally in love with Hollywood and are willing to live the moments of your favourite Hollywood ventures, do make a trip to the Universal Studios, Japan.

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The Fantastic City of Greensboro, North Carolina



The Fantastic City of Greensboro, North Carolina

If you love shopping, sightseeing, adventurous sports and horses then there is no better place to visit in the whole world than Greensboro, North Carolina. With more than 135 attractions, 500 restaurants and 87 accommodation choices, Greensboro is one of the most visited cities of North Carolina. Greensboro is the third most populous city in North Carolina and county seat of Guildford County. This amazing city is located among the hills of North Carolina Piedmont between Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. The history of Greensboro takes us to 1808 when this city was named Greensboro because of its greenery and the city covered a total area of only 42 acres. Just like other famous cities, Greensboro also saw its businesses shattering down during 1930′s great depression but in the 1990s, Greensboro fought back and today it is one of the most important economic hubs of the country. You will find more architectural miracles here than many other cities in North Carolina designed by local and international architects. It also has one of the highest literacy rates in the state and also known as the ‘Tournament Town’ because of many sports venues around the city.

GSO

Because of its location, Greensboro has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and no dry seasons. July is the hottest month with 88 degrees maximum temperature and January is the coldest with 27 degrees. The rainfall is quite common here and the city gets 44 inches of rain every year with 9 inches of snowfall. The summer season brings a lot of humidity and there are more than 220 days of sunlight per year. You can visit Greensboro at any time during the year but the recommendation is the spring season.

How to get here?

how to get here

The nearest and serving international airport to Greensboro is Piedmont Triad International Airport which receives many major airline carriers like Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier, United, US Airways and more. The Airport is located just half an hour west of the city and is the third busiest airport in North Carolina. If you are coming to Greensboro from nearby cities then you can use J. Douglas Galyon Depot Bus and Train Service. From the Airport and other nearby spots you can easily get a rental car, cab, taxi or shuttle to reach and get around the city.

Accommodation and Food

greensboro-nc-hotel

There are more than 80 lodging options in the city of Greensboro from campgrounds and resorts to luxury hotels and budget motels. One of the most famous place is Extended Stay America located at Big Tree Way with 129 rooms, 3 suites and 3 efficiencies featuring private spa, health club, an outdoor pool and free internet. There is also a branch of Extended stay at Thorndike Road with 84 rooms and 84 suites. Other good options include Howthorn Suites by Wyndham with 120 rooms and 20 suites, Studio 6 with 128 rooms and Suburban Extended Stay at Landmark Center Boulevard with 133 rooms and 10 suites. In budget options there is Burke Manor Inn, Dailey Renewal Retreat Bed and Breakfast, Georgia Belle Inn, Groome Inn, Haynes Bed & Breakfast, Twin Lakes Lodge and Walnut Lane Bed & Breakfast.

food

You have more than 500 dining spots to chose from in Greensboro with all types of international tastes. One of the best restaurants featuring seafood is Seafood Grille, located at West Friendly Avenue with great service. Other famous places include Acropolis Restaurant featuring Greek & Mediterranean cuisine, Akashi and Arby’s featuring tasty fast food, Backdoor Bar and Grill featuring American cuisine and some great cocktails, Carolina’s Diner and Caribba’s Italian Grill with delicious Italian food, great pastries and snacks at Chessecakers by Alex, El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant, Elizabeth’s Pizza, Jack’s Corner Mediterranean Deli and Jade Chinese Restaurant featuring some luring Chinese food.

The Attractions

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

guilford courthouse national military park

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is a park exhibiting the Battle of Guilford Court House which was fought in 1781. It is located on New Garden Road and you will feel the intensity of the 2.5 hours of brutal fighting by 4500 American militia led by Major General Nathanael Greene. There are 28 sculptures in the park and a huge statue of General Nathanael Greene which takes away all the attention from other things in the park. Other attractions in the park are Colonial Hertiage Center and Nathanael Greene Library which is open to public by appointment only.

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe

Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe is a theme park of Wet ‘n Wild chain of water parks, located on S Holden Road of Greensboro. It is the largest water park in North Carolina and features over 36 rides, Splash Island, Happy Harbor which are specially designed for kids. The main attraction of the park are rides and slides like Bonzai Pipeline, Double Barrel Blast, Daredevil Drop, Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, Dragon’s Den and Raging Rapids. The ticket price for adults is $35.99 with unlimited rides but you can also buy the Priority Season Pass for $100, which gives you unlimited admission for the season, free parking, 20% discounts on food & retail and many other amenities

Greensboro Coliseum Complex

greensboro coliseum

Greensboro Coliseum Complex is a sports complex located on W Lee Street of Greensboro and it is used for athletic events, cultural arts, theater, educational activities, fairs, exhibits, concerts, conventions, convocations, trades and consumer shows. It is also the venue of WWE Smackdown and has the seating capacity of more than 23000 fans. There is also the War Memorial Auditorium with 2400 seats, Odeon Theatre, the 167000 square foot Events Center with three exhibition halls and a mini arena with 4500 seats. This complex holds more than 850 events in a year and has become the economic landmark of Greensboro.

Other Attractions in Greensboro include the Bog Garden, International Civil Rights Center & Museum, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Triad Stage, Carolina Theatre of Greensboro and many more.

Göbekli Tepe: the oldest temple



Göbekli Tepe: the oldest temple

Man work and workshop have bonds deeper than any of us have imagined.  From the ancient time till today we seem to be drawn to the idea of the God’s home, the temple.  We visit it, find peace and connect with it. We admire the work and the story behind it. It is more than the glitz of sin-lands and romance of Rome. The temples we visit while travel or travel there especially for the temple is more than spirituality.

gobekli-family-path_35420_600x450

The story today is of the later kind. The travel is for the temple and not just a stop by. Sounds boring? How about if I tell you it’s an ancient temple? Well that’s not really a point of distinction right? Temples are as old as they come. So Whats the big deal. This temple beats the Stone Age itself to predate its existence. Not by a couple of centuries, it is 60 centuries before the Stone Age. It is that old!

Now that I have your attention, let me ease you in. The place is called Göbekli Tepe. It is located in the new country of Turkey in the southeastern region of the country. It is in the northeastern direction from the ancient town Urfa / Edessa, now known as Şanlıurfa.

It is a Neolithic structure roughly translated as Potbelly hill. The history behind this place is pretty awesome as is the story of discovery. It was noticed and wasn’t excavated with the idea that the stones inside were beyond use. It was perceived to be an old Byzantine cemetery. The land was allocated as agricultural land and the locals used it as and when they needed. It was a common practice to move the stones around whenever required. The world regrets this action for in the process the oldest temple archeology was heavily disturbed with evidences being destroyed.

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Then a German archeologist, Klaus Schmidt, startled the world in 1995. He was operating in a nearby field and the Chicago researcher’s brief description made him take a closer look. It is said that within minutes he realized that the stones were more than that. They were prehistoric. The weird thing here is that in those times the surrounding area of Göbekli Tepe was found to be luscious. The tress and grasses all made life easy. This was the time when man was nomads hence they dint live in the place. It can be said to be a place for hunters gathering. The carvings on the T shaped stones are said to be more vivid than compatible with the said age and time. There are various animals carved in the stones like lions and boars or tortoise. Unlike other carvings they are said to be scary and beautiful in a weird way.

With Radiocarbon dating and other analytical techniques it was found that the agricultural byzantine cemetery was actually the oldest of the old temples of the world. It is known as the cathedral on the hills. The world had trained its eyes on this discovery.

carvings

The thing to ponder upon here is the fact that man was capable of designing such an engineering challenging structure in the age where tools were scarce. The temple came first then came the city. The bones of deer and bears of those times make the findings stronger. There are over 20 open oval rooms found in the site which are approximately as big as the circles with 30 meter radius. The nomads who were hunters in essential made this structure! This has the historians stumped.

ovals

The ovals have T shaped structure in the middle which shows the architectural prowess of the people for they seem to define a human persona with arms. The structure also has 3-D effects and has the oldest stone structure made by man. It is a known fact that the human burial s didn’t take place here. There was no residential use and hence is said to be a communal house of sorts. Fires were lit in the smaller holes. If prayers actually took place of not, in what form is all a mystery.

arms

How do you go there? If this were 2005 he answer would be you need your own car, the guide doesn’t speak English and the travel is horrendous. Today there are specific itinerary that have your flights booked from Istanbul to Şanlıurfa. The 2 hr. flight will get you to the land. There are AC coaches to take you to the place with English speaking guides helping you fill up your quota of history and spirituality. It is followed by lunch in the local restaurant and interaction with the local public. The evening allows you to pick up souvenirs for home. The shopping in the local market then flight back to Istanbul. The itinerary will have you dropped back to your hotels. A good way to spend your Turkey trip. If ancient is what you want then this one is a good deal.

some people go as far as suggesting that this is the garden of Eden where Adam had the apple that damned the entire humanity. Now that would be neat !

This place is now being turned into a museum cum conservation site Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has led the initiative to preserve the natural and rustic state of the oldest place of human gathering, the Göbekli Tepe. With the national and international support, this place is geared up to be a world tourism attraction.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica



Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica

The commonwealth of Dominica is a volcanic island in the eastern Caribbean between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Lesser Antilles Island chain. It spans across 46 kilometres in length. Often called as “the Nature Island of the Caribbean “, Dominica features untouched lush green mountains, massive volcanoes and boiling lakes. In fact, out of the Caribbean’s total of 16 volcanoes, 9 of them are situated in Dominica. Morne Trois Pitons National Park is a World Heritage Site and a highland area covering 68 square kilometres. It is located roughly 13 kilometres from Roseau, the Dominican capital city.  The highest peak in the area measures 1342 metres.  Dominica enjoys abundant seasonal rainfall which in turn sustains the rich ecosystem of the island.

At the Emerald Pool, the visitor will witness the exotic beauty of the park. The heavy rainfall forms waterfalls and rivers where many tropical flora and fauna make their habitat. Heliconia caribaea, a bright red plant, is found all over the island of Dominica. The blue headed hummingbird, found in Dominica is a frequent visitor and an important pollinator of this region. The red necked Amazon is one of the endemic species on the island however recently; their existence has been threatened due to the change in vegetation. Dominica is believed to be the home to more than 170 species of birds.

The park features hot springs that can be found by the river. Valleys run across the foot of the mountains, where active volcanoes can be found. The strong smell of sulphur due to this volcanic activity dominates the area. The sound of hissing hot steam can be heard throughout, a large amount of which can be seen in the form of a thick cloud in the Boiling Lake, which has water temperatures heating up to over 95 degrees Celsius. The volcanic energy and abundant rainfall that Dominica has is manifested in the very serene and pristine Morne Trois Pitons National Park.

 

Attractions

                                                                                          

The Boiling Lake

boiling lake

The Boiling Lake, being only 63 meters in diameter produces thick cloudy steam. The cause of the steam is the heavy rainfall that has created a large volume of groundwater. With the help of the molten lava underneath, the water gets heated to rising temperatures.  Being the second largest hot spring in the world, the lake is a major highlight in Dominica. The lake is continuously bubbling with greyish blue water and steam. It is recommending that the visitor hire a guide, even though the scene may be tempting enough to go ahead and explore for oneself. The rocks are slippery and the edges are steep, with an elevation of 2,640 feet. The best view of the lake if from the hill above it. The lake can be accessed by a 2-4 hour walk from Laudat. The depth of the lake though officially unknown, is believed to be more than 195 feet.

The Emerald Pool

emerald pool

Take a tip into the pool’s crystal waters beneath its towering 50 ft waterfall. Popular among hikers, the Emerald Falls is undoubtedly, the best place for rejuvenation in the area. These photogenic falls have well maintained trails though the uneven rocky surface may prove challenging to some. The lush surroundings over the pool, have given the pool its name. The pool water is cold so visitors should come prepared.  The Emerald pool has also been featured in movies and weddings have also taken place there.

The Valley of Desolation

Dominca-Valley-of-Desolation

Though the park is filled with lush vegetation, this cannot be seen in the Valley of Desolation due to its sulphur content in volcanic vents and hot springs that are known to cause a decline in plant growth. The hike to the Valley of Desolation is takes roughly about 2 hours in climbing the stairs. After returning from this extraordinary landscape, visitors can visit the Ti Tou Gorge for relaxation. The Valley provides an excellent opportunity to those who want a close up experience to volcanic activity.

Ti Tou Gorge

titou-gorge

Famous for some scenes of the Pirates of the Caribbean being shot here, a swim at the Ti Tou Gorge is a must. Be sure to be careful, as the area is filled with some sharp rocks. The gorge is a series of natural ponds, a natural water ride. The gorge was formed as a result of cooling of the molten lava, that later separated to give the gorge its deep and undulating form. Ti Tou is a Creole word that means ‘small throat’. The pool provides a great opportunity for a short swim, and even non swimmers can rejuvenate at its hot spring. Local vendors may also be available at the site selling snacks and souvenirs.

Boeri Lake

boeri lake

Situated at an altitude of 2,850 feet, the Boeri Lake is the highest lake in Dominica. The lake also boasts of being the largest freshwater lake on the island. The lake has a depth of approximately 117 feet and its highest level is experienced in the months of October and December. The trail to the Boeri Lake is not too long and takes a roughly 40 minute hike. The well maintained trails offer some stunning views of the vegetation around.